12 National Guard Members Removed From Inauguration

It's not clear how many of them, if any, have potential links to extremist groups
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2021 1:57 AM CST
A Dozen National Guard Members Removed From DC
Armed National Guard troops walk past the U.S. Capitol two days before the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Amid concerns of a possible "insider attack" at President-elect Biden's inauguration, a dozen National Guard members have been removed from inaugural duties in Washington, DC, and sent home, Defense Department officials said Tuesday. All of them were found to either have links to right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist sentiments online, according to the AP's sources, though there were no specific threats toward Biden or Kamala Harris. According to the New York Times, some of the removed members were found to be the subject of criminal probes, had outstanding complaints against them, or had committed domestic abuse. At least one specifically expressed support for outgoing President Trump. The news comes on the heels of a report that QAnon adherents have discussed posing as National Guard members at the inauguration.

The chief of the National Guard, however, says just two of the members made comments specifically regarding the inauguration, and the others were removed for more general reasons like the ones listed by the Times. The situation remains somewhat unclear, as CNN reports that he later said the two who made "inappropriate" comments may not necessarily have ties to extremist groups. Also Tuesday, Lloyd J. Austin III, Biden's pick for defense secretary, said he would make it a priority to remove extremists from the military if confirmed. "The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies,” the general said. “But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks." The FBI has so far identified at least six suspects in the US Capitol rampage who have military links. (More Biden inauguration stories.)

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